Toronto's very own Gay not only have a bluntly memorable name, they're also really good at making music videos for their summery, upbeat, poppish rock tracks that will make you mindnumbingly dizzy within the first 60 seconds.
Toronto's very own Gay not only have a bluntly memorable name, they're also really good at making music videos for their summery, upbeat, poppish rock tracks that will make you uncomfortably dizzy within the first 60 seconds. Clearly the boys in Gay are just as excited as you are about the return of summer in North America, since their whole concept for this video is simply: four guys gleefully rolling down a hill. Their upcoming album is also called Dance Mix '95, which will probably make you laugh if you're Canadian, but otherwise you just need to know that they're making a very awesome reference to a very awesome compilation of dance music that came out in the year 1995.
I sat down with Gay to chat with them about their newest video, along with their sometimes tenuous band dynamic. Their fights are about as controversial as the kinds of arguments you hear about when four dudes live with eachother in a house for too long. "Who ate all the peanut butter cups, bro?" They're charming nonetheless.
Noisey: How did this video come together?
Tom: There's a Pixies video (for "Velouria") where there's a static shot of them climbing down a hill in super slow motion. I kind of liked that idea and suggested it to Aaron Kopff who directed it. He definitely never saw the Pixies video and did something completely different with it, but it is, in essence, us rolling slow motion down a hill—it's just not at all the same.
Did he avoid watching it on purpose?
Tom: No, I didn't even mention it.
Neil: I didn't know that you stole that idea until just now.
Tom: Really? Well, the video is really pretty and nice, and slow motiony and kind of serious. It's just one stationary shot and they sort of fall through the frame for the duration of the song. So it's super different in its execution, but essentially the same idea.
Neil: It's a pretty basic idea.
Tom: It's not like we ripped off some plot line or something.
Are you guys fans of basic ideas?
Tom: I suppose so. We got a lot of pretty basic ideas.
Cam: I think that's the only way four songwriters can make a band work, is to have basic ideas and then have people pile on top of them. The foundation is pretty simple—we write simple songs, and over top we add more complex stuff to them. Even the band name is a basic, very simple name.
Did anything funny happen while you were making the video or were you too busy enjoying all that hill-rolling you were doing?
Paul: Neil and I got physically ill doing it, which was fun. I was the biggest baby. I just got really physically ill, rolling down. I really couldn't handle it.
It makes me really uncomfortable watching it, actually. Because I think I would probably feel sick too. I don't like that motion.
Neil: I have a good stomach, but it killed me.
Tom: I had two broken ribs when we shot it, which was really, really uncomfortable. When we were going to shoot it, I had broken my ribs two weeks before in a bike accident. We were talking about alternatives to me rolling down a hill and when it was actually happening, I couldn't not do it. Initially, everyone was enjoying themselves so much, but then we did it upwards of 15 times each at the end. By the end, it was not at all fun.
Neil: I think your direct quote was: "The heart wants to roll."
The boys of Gay on the beach. Photo by Norman Wong.
How did you feel after?
Tom: I thought I was going to end up making the injury a lot worse than it was. I ended up being mostly fine, but I think it definitely ruined Paul and Neil's day.
Paul: I played tennis after for a while. I even had a beer after.
You guys really suffer for your art. What else is in the works for you guys this summer?
Tom: We've got an LP coming out on Pleasance Records on July 11th, which this video is a first single for. We're going to do a video right before the release for a song called "It's Summer." And we're starting to plan a little Midwest tour for August as well, so we're probably going to Chicago, Detroit, and Indiannapolis and just around there.
What are your best tour stories?
Cam: We almost broke up. We went on one tour. We toured the States last year and we finished recording the record last January, and we were sort of waiting to get some rough mixes back to get a sense of what it was going to be like. We took a tour of the States—started in Montreal and did a little U around the Midwest. We rented a very small car for two weeks and we didn't have enough shows for us to be super pumped, so there there was a lot of stress, and by the end we had a lot of animosity towards one another, and then we had to have a band meeting a month later to decide if we were going to continue, while we were still waiting on the record to be done.
When you guys fight, what do you fight about?
Neil: We need space.
Paul: We fit all four of us comfortably in the car because all of our gear was packed in the trunk.
Tom: Cam and I managed to get all of the gear into the trunk of the car and still find space. The further we got on tour, the better we got at packing, and we'd always be like, "oh there's an extra foot of space that wasn't here last night," and it wasn't because we were losing anything.
Neil: Actually, we were losing things. We lost a fair amount of stuff while we were on that tour.
Paul: The trunk of a Sonata is like that room from Harry Potter where you walk into a door and the place looks tiny and you go in, and it's this golden palace.
Tom: Are you talking about Narnia?
Yeah, that sounds like Narnia.
Tom: One time we weren't able to get a room at a hotel because this woman thought we were four men who were just meeting to have sex.
How obviously did she say that to you?
Tom: She was very clear. She gave us this look…
Neil: I'm fairly certain I saw people smoking crack at the hotel.
Crack's one thing, that's inappropriate. Gay sex is NBD, though. Maybe she Googled you all and found your band name.
Neil: Well, we were trying to get four of us in one room, so one person went in and asked for the room, and then we all came in after it was acknowledged that everything was cool, and this woman instantly reacted to four of us in the room and gave us this very angry, intense, sort of homophobic look. I don't know how to describe it.
Well, there you have it. If you want to preorder Gay's Dance Mix '95 you can do so here. And if you're in Toronto, look out for their record release show on July 11th at Double Double Land.